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Arnold, Mullen Prep for Nextel Showdown

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BOSTON Nextel Communications will hear final pitches from creative and media shops this week, with the former pitching today and tomorrow and the latter meeting with the client on Thursday, sources said.

The presentations will take place at Nextel's headquarters in Reston, Va. Scheduled to present today are Publicis' Leo Burnett, Chicago, and Omnicom's TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York, sources said. Havas' Arnold, Boston, and seven-year incumbent Mullen, an Interpublic Group agency pitching from its offices in Wenham, Mass., and Winston-Salem, N.C., are slated to present on Tuesday, sources said.

The client spends approximately $150 million annually on advertising. It is seeking a shop to create an umbrella brand positioning for its wireless communications products in an effort to become a bigger player in that market, where it currently ranks fifth.

The most recent Nextel ads from Mullen, launched as the year began, feature TV and film celebrities and introduced the tagline, "Get right through." The account ranks as Mullen's largest single piece of business; the agency handles image work out of Wenham and retail advertising from Winston-Salem.

The media finalists are Publicis' Starcom, Omnicom's PHD, Havas' Media Planning Group and incumbent Initiative Media, an IPG shop. Consultants with Roth Associates, New York, are overseeing the review process.